I sit up in the bed, acutely aware of the rough, scratchy bandages covering my eyes. I touch the bandages tentatively, then let my hands fall to the bed. The sheets feel coarse to my touch, as though I could count each thread. My usual bed linens may be cheap and nasty, but they would feel luxurious compared to these… Neither set have the thread count I’d like to become accustomed to.
As I realise I’m not in my own bed, a wave of panic threatens to overwhelm me. I lay down and force myself to take deep, relaxing breaths. My ears search out calming sounds and manage to discover some birds outside, chirping happily amongst themselves. The panic recedes, albeit with a promise to return in an instant, if needed.
Feeling calmer, I decide to pay attention to my immediate surroundings. I hear footsteps, voices, clanging bumps and thuds. One sound captures my attention… It sounds like a mop being squeezed in a bucket. After I work out what the sound is, I turn my focus to the voices.
“He did what?!” A hushed female voice. “And you didn’t have to ask?”
“He claims he likes doing it,” a second female giggles.
Suddenly a klaxon overwhelms all other sounds, accompanied by a tinny, amplified voice. CODE BLUE ROOM 212.
All sounds cease apart from hurried footsteps. Walking fast, not running. After a few seconds, I hear a woman crying out incoherently as orders are snapped in quick succession. I wince at the loud sounds of medical staff struggling valiantly to restart a patient’s heart. I hear a collective sigh of relief as a distant machine starts to ping. Now I can hear footsteps again, much slower this time.
Time passes. I hear a cart and smell the enticing aromas of coffee and pastries. I sit up expectantly, my stomach rumbling. I’m acutely aware of my hunger, but sounds and smells from the cart disappear into the distance.
Exhaustion creeps up on me so I lay back down to rest. After a while – I have no idea how long I slept – I wake to the sound of someone approaching my bed and noisily clearing their throat.
“I’m Doctor -”
I forget his name the moment I hear it. In fact, I can’t remember the vast majority of things he says to me… Only a few keywords stand out…
Flashes of the accident run across my mind. I squeeze my eyes shut to stop the parade of images, but it doesn’t help.
“You may find your other senses improve to compensate,” the doctor continues, his voice loud and booming.
“You don’t have to shout,” I whisper, clamping my hands over my ears.